(The Original)

Amateur Scribe

Fan of young goat, the German violinist? (6,7)

Hated child killer Ian Huntley was beaten so ferociously in jail he had a face like a boot.

A prison source said: “The attack was absolutely brutal and Huntley was taken completely off guard. He was sitting in the workshop doing a crossword. Next minute this prisoner…flew at him throwing punches that hammered into him.”

The Sun – 20th July 2005

Isn’t that typical of the bullies in this country – always picking on the crossword geek.

Just as it was with the lumbering tyrants of the schoolyard apportioning wedgies and Chinese burns to the swots and the weaklings with their milk-bottle top glasses and their maths homework, so it is now with the tattooed, hairy-backed Neanderthals who patrol the prison corridors and prey on defenceless child killers innocently poring over word-based brain-teasers.

“Oi, Tinkerbell, what you got there?”
“Hey you. Yeah. You. Professor. Think you’re better than us do ya? DO YA?”
“Look at you with your airs and graces and your Guardian cryptic – I’m gonna put some hurt on you, pretty boy…”

I see the prison source hasn’t specified which crossword Huntley was so engrossed in. The imagination runs wild at the possibilities: What could have sparked the ire of his fellow lags? Was he too quick with his answers during a communal stab at the Coffee Time poser in the Sun? Or maybe he was ostentatiously reeling off complex solution structures on the latest fiendish Listener puzzle?

We may never know. Either way, nobody likes a smart-arse.

Crossword melbou

Public crosswording can be bad for

your health.

I can empathise with his predicament (crossword-wise only, obviously. The negative reaction he has received as a result of the whole murder/paedophilia thing is a nasty business and, I’m afraid to say, largely of his own making).

Public displays of wordplay prowess can cause friction. Call me a loser if you like, but I enjoy doing crosswords. They keep the mind sharp and pass the time on public transport and any prospective critics might want to consider the legions of culturally regressive thirtysomethings with their noses in Harry Potter novels before they have a pop at me.

I like to think I am a conscientious person. I consider it a touch vulgar to revel in one’s own intelligence. I might allow myself a self-satisfied smile if I have unravelled a particularly devious solution, or a small, derisive snort at the tenuous, sloppy clue setting of, say, the Daily Telegraph.

But things can get out of hand. Once, on the tube, when I loudly (and some might say rather patronisingly) revealed my working behind deciphering the answer "necromancy" from the clue "Girl overwhelms newcomer with black magic (10)"**, my bored companions, sick of similar smug interruptions to the enjoyment of their Harry Potter and Dan Brown novels, simply turned away and pretended not to know me while I got my teeth kicked in by a bunch of angry commuters.

Notice also the location of Huntley’s attack – the prison workshop. This is a schoolboy error for a loner looking to keep his nose clean. Not only is he revelling in his superior intelligence by flaunting his crossword ability, but he’s also chumming up to the authorities by knocking out a couple of coffee tables or maybe a nice CD rack for the warden.

And I’m intrigued by the “face like a boot” comment. Not sure what the lag’s on about here. Is he referring to Huntley resembling an ugly old woman (which would be something of an irony considering the circumstances of his crime); or perhaps it was a cleverly crafted kicking with huge symbolic significance – the implement of torture recreated on the impacted body part in a violent juxtaposition of prison brutality and wanky modern art.

Anyway, I still feel it’s the crossword that got him into the most trouble.

Or is it maybe that he is an evil, murderous scumbag with a predilection for pre-pubescent girls?

Whichever, now may be a good time to switch his allegiance to Su Dokus

* That’s kiddie fiddler, folks

** For those who are interested, the girl is nancy and she “overwhelms” (ie. surrounds) the “newcomer” (a new version – ie. an anagram - of the word comer). Hence n-ecrom-ancy – necromancy – which is a form of black magic.

Those who aren’t interested can bugger off.

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